Chlor-alkali chemistry is essential in the production of modern medicines.

It is estimated that around 88% of modern medicines rely on chlor-alkali chemistry for part of their production process. These include drugs for asthma, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even cancer. Over three quarters of these drugs only use chlor-alkali in their synthesis meaning it is not necessarily found in the final product. These include:

  • Hydrochloric acid to control the pH during the production process,
  • Chlorinated solvents to separate and purify the active ingredients,
  • Sodium stearate, a sodium chemical from caustic soda, to enhance the effectiveness of ingredients in creams and ointments,
  • Chlorine to purify borosilicate glass tubes that are used to safely store and transport vaccines. 

Whilst famous for its use in clothing, Nylon is produced from caustic soda and is used to produce surgical sutures.

Many of these pharmaceuticals are then kept fresh and sterile in packaging made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride)

Our video describes more about hot chlor-alkali keeps us healthy. Julie is a community pharmacist who relies on chlor-alkali chemistry to make us feel better when we are unwell. Read her story here.